Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 3, Issue 26;   June 25, 2003: When You Travel Alone

When You Travel Alone

by

Many of us travel as a part of our jobs, and some of us spend a fair amount of that time traveling solo. Here are some tips for enlivening that time alone while you're traveling for work.

As her voice grew louder, and her tone more stern, the gate agent got my attention. I was sitting in a freshly emptied airport departure lounge while on layover, listening to her deal with a travel-challenged passenger.

"This isn't your flight. You're two hours early. Come back later," she exasperated.

An airport ticket counterThe passenger said something I couldn't hear, and the gate agent said, loudly, "No, you're in a different time zone now. Come back later."

I turned, and saw the passenger pick up her bag and leave. So I caught the agent's attention and said, "Can you tell me what year it is?"

Anger came to her face. She stepped out from behind the counter, walked rapidly towards me and as her grimace turned to a smile, she playfully slapped my shoulder.

"You…"

"Gotcha," I said.

"You did! But it's my first day back from vacation…"

Fun is very important, especially at airports. When we travel for work, feelings of loneliness can make trips burdensome. Finding fun, amusement, or connection can help. Here are some ideas.

Fun is very important,
especially at airports
Do something unusual
Whether it's an architecture tour or a nap, planning ahead helps. But sometimes only the locals know the real gems. Get suggestions from hotel staff — and not just the concierge.
Bring portable activities
Many bring reading, but consider alternatives: puzzle books, a harmonica, knitting, even your bills or taxes.
Find group activities
Perhaps an organization you belong to has a chapter at your destination. Attend a meeting. Check out houses of worship — they might have a social event.
Friends and colleagues
Contact people you know who live near your destination, or who might be there when you are. Find out if they know anyone else there. Expand your network and have fun doing it.
Let go of the home office
Learn how not to fret about what's happening back there. Delegate authority — really. Limit contact with the people in charge while you're away.
Stay in touch with loved ones
Call home often. Tell them you miss them and feel the love. If you're away for a while, consider a videoconference with your family. Use the company conference facility or a public facility such as an incubator.
Live well
To stay in top condition, treat yourself right. Don't skimp on lodgings, especially if you're away for a while. Find out in advance about exercise facilities.
Eat right for you
Restaurants tend to offer food that's memorable, which means it's often very different from your normal fare. Instead, keep to your usual diet as much as possible.
Bring small things from home
Bring your slippers or a favorite T-shirt for relaxing. Read your hometown paper or listen to hometown radio on line.

Maybe you're reading this on a trip. What can you do differently right now? Go to top Top  Next issue: Tornado Warning  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Office equipment — or is it office toys?Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
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Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.

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